Many of us are preparing to return to USC for the upcoming school year with excitement and anticipation. However, attending class and studying for exams can become routine as the school year progresses, but there are places around campus that can help spice up your routine or become a new study spot. Studying day and night at Leavey Library can become boring, and after living on campus for a year, I have found a couple of different study spots to help change up your scenery while studying, especially during finals.
For all of the people who love boba but don’t like having to walk off campus to get it, there is actually a hidden boba place on campus! LiteraTea is located behind Doheny Library and is a little cafe where you can study. They serve a variety of healthy, quick items you can take on the go (and boba!). It is also the perfect place to study, as there is an outdoor courtyard to do work right across from the cafe. This courtyard allows you to enjoy the sunshine and take in the rays of Southern California while getting work done.
Balcony of the School of Cinematic Arts
If you are looking for a quiet yet scenic place to study, the balconies in the School of Cinematic Arts are the perfect place. The balconies are not restricted to Cinematic Arts students and are open from 7-11 PM. You can access the balconies by entering in one of their buildings and taking the elevator to the second or third floor. Once you enter, the balconies overlook the beautiful courtyard of SCA and have outdoor patio seating. This is perfect for quiet studying with a view or hanging out with friends. I have had many late-night chats and group studying sessions here!
Café 84 is conveniently located between Fluor Tower and Webb Tower. While the hours of Café 84 fluctuate (they close anytime from 11-2 AM on weekdays), this is the perfect place to get work done or have group meetings. Café 84 also has a Starbucks, which is convenient to help kick start studying. If you like doing work surrounded by some noise, this is the place to study. I especially enjoy doing group work here, as it is a very casual atmosphere.
Whether you end up in overwhelmingly large lectures or in a dorm where everyone seems to be doing different things, finding a community on campus can be challenging. In high school, I was only involved in one club because of my busy schedule and I figured college would be even busier. With this in mind, I wasn’t sure if I would have time to be committed to a club. However, I’m glad I didn’t let this concern stop me. Clubs have heightened my college experience by introducing me to people I would have never met otherwise. Being of mixed race and raised by a mother who didn’t pass on the Japanese language to me, I have felt very disconnected from my ethnic identity.
Joining Nikkei, social and cultural Japanese club, was my first attempt at connecting with my lost culture. “Nikkei” means Japanese emigrants and their descendants; and the name is appropriate, as I have met many great people with varying degrees of connection to the Japanese culture. In addition, I joined Mixed SC which is a club for people of mixed race. It was so refreshing to see a room full of people that somewhat looked like me. One topic of discussion was which race we identify with more, if it is equal, or if we feel like either. I usually don’t have these types of conversations so I was excited to find a space where I could. Unfortunately, not every ethnicity is represented in the clubs available on campus. I have friends who are in this boat and it can feel isolating. On the upside, every club, including those of a specific ethnicity welcome students of any background with open arms. For instance, I have been going to a Filipino club with my friends, one of whom is Filipino, this spring semester. The first time I went, I had this feeling that I shouldn’t be there. However, by the end of the meeting, I realized how approachable and accepting everyone was. No matter what, people are just happy that you want to be there.
It is also valuable to not shy away from clubs you wouldn’t join at first glance. One day I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post for free boba at a club meeting. To be honest, I did not notice what the club was and was only motivated by the boba to attend. This club turned out to be IVTCF or Intervarsity Trojan Christian Fellowship. My family, myself included, has never been religious and I have in the past labelled myself as atheist and then agnostic. By the end of the meeting, I found that I had never met more friendly people who were accepting of the fact that I wasn’t religious. I am still a part of the club to this day.
As the first round of midterms reaches its peak, I find myself overwhelmed by my commitments. Again. It seems that every semester begins smoothly, but time management only helps so much to balance a life that, frankly, is overbooked. As I learned in my gender studies class, Americans have the longest work week in the world. We can boast of our high GDP and standards of living compared to many other nations, but economic benefits come with hidden costs. This workaholic culture trickles down, and is especially concentrated at a university like USC. People who triple major, invest thirty hours a week e-boarding for several clubs, rushing and pledging in the Greek system, or work a full-time job alongside a full course load are our role models — the hard working ideal. Squeezing maximum productivity out of every day is the norm. Is this mindset of high-intensity social, academic, involvement helpful, or even sustainable in the long-term? Perhaps a dominant narrative negatively portrays a stereotypical American characteristic, rewarding effort without achievement, but I think there is an equally strong narrative that seeks to disrupt this view that Americans are lazy and entitled.
As an American-born Chinese (ABC), I grew up with Asian immigrant parents. Like many of their “tiger” counterparts, they stressed academic accomplishment, but unlike the tiger parent stereotypes, they told me I should also remember to take breaks and relax sometimes. However, in college, there is no one to remind me to put down my macroeconomics lecture slides and simply BE. As soon as I stop working, the guilt sets in. I don’t want to be a lazy and entitled American, I think. So I work harder and I overcommit. And when my laptop’s hard drive fails and I succumb to a bad cold that takes me out of class for a week, my self worth disappears along with my rigid work schedule. Lying in bed with used tissues and a glass of hot tea, I realized how easily my world was reduced to my Google Calendar’s events and task list in the semester’s first four weeks. I had become my commitments. My long-distance relationship was suffering because I was in club meetings, attending lectures, or working for most of my days. This is not what I envisioned for myself, but slipping into the “work hard, play hard” culture that permeates this campus is extremely tempting.